The nays do not have it always
While negativism is in the air around the world, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key emerged on a different plane on November 26, 2011 with his non-controversial and clean image.
He led his National Party to a record win the Elections.
It was a historic day for the Party from the time of Sidney Holland’s landslide victory in 1950 though it fell one short of the magical number to form the Government on its own in the 121-seat parliament.
Undoubtedly, National Party rode on the popularity of Mr Key towards victory.
Labour Party on the other hand, got just 34 seats with a voting percentage of a modest 27.1, considered the worst ever performance since 1928.
‘Brand Key’ Image
Was it the Leader’s popularity, now called “Brand Key” that went against Labour or was it the inability of Phil Goff and his Labour Party to run a campaign devoid of any mudslinging and negativism that became counterproductive?
The answer is ‘yes’ to both.
The first aspect was beyond the control of the Labour Party but the second was definitely within its reach.
After the defeat in the 2008 Election, Labour was lagging with a negative campaign.
There was indeed a voter base which did not vouch for the policies of National but preferred the Greens, which garnered 13 seats, its highest in New Zealand.
This clearly shows that Labour’s progressive vote bank will be shared by the Greens in the elections to come.
However, the Party’s over-reliance on trade unions and its inability to convince voters of its policies was the main reason for its poor showing.
How it would reconstruct its image and start working with a new leader will be of public and media interest.
The answers to Labour Party’s problems rested on increasing the pitch against policies of the John Key government and not on running a negative campaign.
It would be important for the Party’s think-tank to understand that the left-centre parties are not performing well worldwide.
Labour or its look alike are in power in Europe, US, Canada and Australia, but is finding it hard to spread itself among the new vote bank of professionals.
Political commentators had said even before the elections that the vote base of Labour, which came out of the Industrial Revolution in Europe with social democracy as its core philosophy, is now on the decline.
Unless progressive parties around the world look for new ways to spread their voter base, they would find it harder to form governments.
Labour Party in New Zealand is no exception.
By Mr Key, with ability to reach out to different classes of the society has helped the National Party immensely.
The ‘Brand Key’ image with a Teflon coating is here to stay for a second-term, although its policies will be scrutinized more critically than in the past.
This image may work its charm in the 2014 elections as well.